STARTING FROM HAPPY by Patricia Marx

STARTING FROM HAPPY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Likable goofball Wally falls hard for aloof lingerie designer Imogene Gilfeather.

Their story told through a series of brief “chaplettes,” the mismatched lovers at the heart of this experimental comic novel have no business, and every reason, for being together. Described by a friend as a big “yes,” quirky scientist Wally Yez knows exactly what he wants when he spies a statuesque redhead at a party in Manhattan. Imogene’s reputation as an eligible designer of fine ladies undergarments precedes her, but a relationship with Wally is just about the last thing on her mind. A fiercely independent creature of habit, she is obsessed with her career and more-or-less happy with her married lover Ron de Jean, a well-known sleep researcher. She blows off a series of dates, but Wally does not give up easily, and the two begin an odd phone relationship that eventually leads to actual dates followed by cohabitation. Ambivalent on the best of days, Imogene is reluctant to marry, but slowly finds her will worn away by Wally’s persistence and the two end up in the suburbs, raising two radically different kids. Or do they? That is because Marx (Him Her Him Again the End of Him, 2007, etc.) does not exactly follow a conventional structure and liberally inserts herself into the narrative. But peppered among the drawings and self-consciously wacky asides emerges a poignant portrait of a long-term relationship, with all the disappointments and occasional triumphs that entails. Ideally suited to the kind of audience that enjoys Woody Allen movies, this very clever effort is, like its lead characters, something of an acquired taste. But Imogene, especially, impresses as a creation of far more depth than her ice-queen exterior would suggest.

A funny, sad and original take on the mating game.
Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4391-0128-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2011




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